Scenes from Pre-War Hiroshima

[14]Rakurakuen Amusement Park

Filmed January and April 1938 (Showa 13) by Bunzo Eika
Rakurakuen, Saeki Ward

Rakurakuen Station was opened to attract visitors to Rakurakuen, the first amusement park in Hiroshima. In the Edo period, the area was covered with salt evaporation ponds, which gradually disappeared as salt production declined. In 1936 Hiroshima Gasudenki (today’s Hiroshima Electric Railway), the firm operating the Miyajima Line, opened an amusement park on land reclaimed from the salt ponds. Named Rakurakuen, the amusement park, which was still a novel concept in Japan, attracted great attention and visitors from as far as Shimane and other places outside the prefecture. Attractions included electric cars, a steam locomotive, swimming pools, and a monkey enclosure, offering a complete escape from everyday life. Many children found it hard to sleep on the night before a trip to Rakurakuen. Adults apparently found the park enjoyable too. Pre-war Rakurakuen was spaciously laid out, allowing families to spread picnics. Greater numbers of amusement rides were added in the ensuing years as visitor numbers grew. The park closed in 1971.
Reference: Hiroshima Konjaku [Hiroshima Past and Present] (RCC program broadcast on November 25, 1989)

[15]From “Sights in and around Kabe Town”

Filmed September 1925 (Taisho 15) by Shuichi Fujii
Kabe-cho, Asakita Ward

Filmed by a local resident, the footage shows Kabe Town’s shopping street, Kabe Station when it was still a narrow-gauge railway station, a steam locomotive on the Kabe Line, Funairi-bori (a canal dock later filled to become Myojin Park), and Takamatsu Bridge. Kabe used to be a thriving way station for river and land transport.
Reference: Hiroshima City Museum of History and Traditional Crafts, Taisho-jidai no Hiroshima [Hiroshima in the Taisho Era] (2007)
Compiled with cooperation from Takashige Shinzawa

[16]Nagahama Bathing Beach, Miyajima

Filmed circa 1935 by Shinichi Yoshioka
Original film courtesy of Hiroshima Municipal Archives
Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi City

The concept of sea bathing arrived from overseas in the Meiji era. Initially a health-promoting practice mainly for the wealthy, it gradually gained widespread popularity as a leisure activity. On pre-war Miyajima Island, the long-established inn Iwaso had a private beach, Nagahama Bathing Beach, and ferried guests to and from the mainland on its own boats. The footage shows the bustle of Miyajima and summer pastimes, including Iwaso’s private shuttle boat, and holidaymakers enjoying water sliding and other amusements at Nagahama Bathing Beach.
Compiled with cooperation from Iwaso

[17]Strait of Ondo and Battleships

Filmed 1929 (Showa 4) or later by Kakichi Tanabe
Ondo-cho, Kure City, and other locations

The footage was probably recorded during a homeward ferry trip from Matsuyama to Hiroshima. It shows Takahama Port, Turner Island, a ferry departure, Ondo-no-Seto (Strait of Ondo), Kiyomori-zuka (Kiyomori Mound), Ondo, Kegoya, and a battleship, destroyer, and light cruiser travelling by. Kiyomori-zuka, a monument standing in the water off Kurahashi-jima Island, is said to have been erected in 1184 to commemorate the achievements of Taira no Kiyomori, who is traditionally believed to have masterminded the project to widen and deepen the strait—an important waterway in the Seto Inland Sea—to allow the passage of trading vessels.

[18]The First Onomichi Port Festival

Filmed April 1–3, 1935 (Showa 10), by Yoshihisa Murao and Genjiro Murao
Tsuchido, Onomichi City, and other locations

The footage records the first Onomichi Minato Matsuri (Onomichi Port Festival), a grand event held in the city center for five days from April 1, 1935, to promote local development. The film shows a celebratory ceremony, a fancy-dress parade down the shopping street, and other scenes. The annual festival was held two more times until 1937, when it was discontinued due to conditions brought by the war. It was revived after the war and is today held every year around late April.

[19]Driving Excursion to Senkoji Park

Filmed circa 1937 (Showa 12) by Tamizo Ogawa
Higashitsuchido, Onomichi City, and other locations

At the time this film was made, the part of Senkoji Park that drew visitors most was the area around Senkoji Temple, a renowned cherry blossom spot. The park grounds were originally land belonging to Senkoji Temple, which the temple had donated for use as a park. The park also had a dome-shaped birdhouse. The footage shows an automobile journeying uphill, the former observation platform (which was located further west, closer to Onomichi Station than the current one near the summit of Mt. Senkoji), Senkoji Temple, birds in the park, a view of Onomichi Channel from a vantage point, and families enjoying their days out. Although some sources date the construction of the former observation platform to around 1949, quite a few local residents remember it from before the war.

[20]From “Kagayaku Kyodo: Ichi-mura, Mitsugi-gun”

Filmed 1937 (Showa 12) by Masao Doi
Original film courtesy of Mitsugi-cho, Onomichi City
Mitsugi-cho, Onomichi City

The footage is an excerpt from Kagayaku Kyodo (lit. Our Glorious Hometown), a film documenting Ichi-mura, Mitsugi-gun (today’s Mitsugi-cho, Onomichi City). The 8-minute, 15-second film is thought to have been commissioned by the local authorities of Ichiu-mura to record its local profile. Shown are the Onomichi Railway, which had services between Onomichi and Ichi-mura, the Western-style Ichi-mura Post Office and other buildings along the main street, the elementary school, a livestock market, Hiroshima Prefectural Kami-Ichimura Agricultural School (today’s Prefectural Mitsugi High School), tomb of the lords of Ikegami Castle at Honshoji Temple, Mitsugi Hachimangu Shrine, and other local features. Ichi-mura has historically been a way station on the route (known as Iwami-ji or Iwami Route) between Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine in Shimane Prefecture and Onomichi, and continued to thrive as a major traffic juncture into the Meiji era.
Compiled with cooperation from Onomichi City Mitsugi Branch Office

[21]Ceremonial Ship Launching of Koyasumaru

Filmed June 15, 1931 (Showa 6) by Yushi Hirose et al.
Fukuyama City

The footage records the ship launch and voyage of wooden steam schooner Koyasumaru, taking place at a seaside location most probably in Fukuyama City. Shown are the fully dressed Koyasumaru, a crowd of spectators, the rope-cutting, and Koyasumaru on the water. It also records Koyasumaru subsequently navigating up the Ashida River, past rice-planting farmers, to a riverside port town and its welcoming crowd. Wooden steam schooners were used for short-distance transportation of cargo in pre-war times.

[22]Shrine Visits to Celebrate a Child’s Third Year

Filmed 1936 (Showa 11) by Raizo Maruyama
Matsunaga-cho, Fukuyama City

A resident of Matsunaga-cho, Numakuma-gun (today’s Matsunaga-cho, Fukuyama City), records female members of his family taking a child, who had reached the third calendar year since birth, to Shinto shrines to receive blessings. They are shown visiting Shiozaki Shrine and Honjo Shrine, both located a short walking distance from the family home.

[23]Fuchu-cho

Filmed April 5, 1929 (Showa 4), by Yushi Hirose et al.
Fuchu-cho, Fuchu City

Recorded during a visit to Fuchu-cho, the footage shows the town from a vantage point, along with passing motorbikes and cars, and the lush Ashida River.

[24]Horse and Cattle Market Crowd

Filmed circa 1940 (Showa 15) by Shuzo Ikemori
Takaya-cho Shiraichi, Higashihiroshima City

Shiraichi district of Takaya-cho, Higashihiroshima City, had thrived since pre-modern times as a castle town. Back in the days this film was made, Shiraichi hosted an annual horse and cattle market in late May. The footage records Shiraichi on one such busy fair day, with a festival procession of local children, stalls of cotton candy and pinwheels, and sideshows. According to an old-timer who saw the footage, “There would be traveling circus troupes and all sorts of people arriving from east and west. At school we couldn’t concentrate on our lessons. The din was such that we could hardly hear what the teacher was saying.”
Reference: RCC News, broadcast on June 16, 2005

[25]Taishakukyo

Filmed circa 1940 (Showa 15) by Shinichi Yoshioka
Original film courtesy of Hiroshima Municipal Archives
Tojo-cho, Shobara City

Taishakukyo (also known as Taishaku Valley or Gorge) is a ravine visited since ancient times as a place of scenic beauty and worship. It stretches from what is today Tojo-cho, Shobara City, to Jinsekikogen-cho, Jinseki-gun. In 1923 it was designated as a Place of Scenic Beauty by the national government under the Historical Sites, Places of Scenic Beauty, and Natural Monuments Preservation Law. The footage, recorded by a Hiroshima City resident, shows Taishakukyo after its tourism was given a boost by the designation. Recorded are the long-established inn Kadoya, which is still in business today, the arched bridge in front of the inn, signs that read “Car boarding point,” “Sai-no-Kawara Cavern”, and “Designated Place of Scenic Beauty, the Home Ministry,” bonnet buses, and excursion boats.
Reference: Tojo-cho, Tojo-cho-shi [History of Tojo Town] Vol. 6 (1997)

[26]From “Souvenir of a Sightseeing Trip to Sandankyo”

Filmed June 14–17, 1927 (Showa 2), by Shuichi Fujii
Akiota-cho, Yamagata-gun

Sandankyo is a ravine located in Akiota-cho, Yamagata-gun. Visitor numbers started to grow in the mid-Taisho era when it received the spotlight as a scenic place. Inns were built, infrastructure was improved, and in 1925 the national government designated Sandankyo as a Place of Scenic Beauty under the Historical Sites, Places of Scenic Beauty, and Natural Monuments Preservation Law. This footage was recorded two years after the designation, and shows Sandankyo in its early days as a tourist destination. The film records such features as the rope bridge, ferryboats, Sarutobi-iwa Cliffs, and a gushing double waterfall.
Reference: Togochi-cho, Togochi: Shashin de Miru Ayumi [History of Togochi Town through Photographs] (1986)

[27]From “Long Ride to Tomo”

Filmed in the early Showa era by Yasuto Kittaka
Tomo-cho, Fukuyama City

Motion picture filming was a hobby reserved for the privileged few in the early Showa era, when equipment was expensive. A series of home-use movie cameras that achieved enormous popularity among the well-heeled and well-connected of Fukuyama City was the Pathé Baby, manufactured in France. Pathé Baby clubs were born, where some members jointly created amateur movies. The Pathé Baby boom was behind the sizeable stock of early-Showa amateur films surviving in and around Fukuyama City. This footage was recorded by a local Pathé Baby distributer. According to an eyewitness, it shows Fukuyama City government officials and army and police personnel participating in a long ride from Fukuyama City to Tomo, which took place every Sunday. The party rode past Zenitori-bashi Bridge (today’s Kusado Ohashi Bridge) in Kusado-cho, Fukuyama City, visited Nunakuma Shrine, explored the town of Tomo on foot, and rested at Tokiwakan (located where Tomo Seaside Hotel is today).
Reference: RCC News, broadcast on August 15, 1995

[28]Fukuyama Castle in the Snow and Other Scenes

Early Showa era
Original film courtesy of Fukuyama Castle Museum
Marunouchi, Fukuyama City, and other locations

The film was donated to Fukuyama Castle Museum in the 1960s and was probably recorded, like [27], by an early Showa-era Pathé Baby club member.
The camera, positioned at Fukuyama Castle on a hilltop, captures a panoramic view comprising Fukuyama Station, the Fukushima Spinning Mill with its chimneys, and other buildings familiar to pre-war Fukuyama residents. The film also records on a snowy day the main keep of Fukuyama Castle, which was designated as a National Treasure in 1931. The castle and grounds were a popular recreation spot for locals. Café Star, which appears later in the film, was located opposite Fukuyama Station, and was frequented by motion picture enthusiasts, who met and engaged in heated discussions about films.
Reference: RCC News, broadcast on August 15, 1995

[29] Inokuchi Beach

Filmed November 1926 (Taisho 15) by Shuichi Fujii
Inokuchimyojin, Nishi Ward, Hiroshima City

Inokuchi Beach was a popular picture-postcard spot until the end of the Meiji era, famous for the reefs of Kogoijima, and for the pair of islands Otokomyojin and Onnamyojin. However, one of the pair, Onnamyojin, disappeared completely as a result of the 1924 arrival of the Miyajima Line operated by Hiroshima Gasudenki (today’s Hiroshima Electric Railway), which ran parallel to the National Railway Sanyo Main Line, and the opening in 1933 of a seafront road for tourist traffic. This footage records the pair of islands shortly before Onnamyojin disappeared entirely, along with a Sanyo Main Line steam locomotive and Miyajima Line tram.
The remaining Otokomyojin also ceased to be an island in 1982 as a result of a major reclamation project in the surrounding area. The former island, now 1 km inland, is indicated today by a plaque bearing the legend “Kogoijima Island,” found within Seibu Umetate Daini Park.
Reference: Hiroshima Prefectural Archives, Hiroshima-ken no Rekishi-ehagaki to Kanko-shiryo [Hiroshima Prefecture’s Historical Postcards and Tourism Materials] (2010)

[31]Street Performers at a Family Home

Filmed circa 1930 (Showa 5) by Kakichi Tanabe
Higashi-hon-machi, Shobara City

Many pre-war homes invited in lion dancers and other street performers as part of the New Year’s celebrations, according to a descendant of the recorder, who feels that children today are missing out on such entertainment.
The footage shows a lion dance and traditional Japanese street performances, including ball and club juggling, plate-spinning, and other routines.
Reference: RCC News, broadcast on October 30, 2001

[32]Hatsukaichi Station and Other Scenes

Filmed 1938 (Showa 13) by Bunzo Eika
Hatsukaichi, Hatsukaichi City

Hatsukaichi Shinyo Kumiai (lit. Hatsukaichi Credit Union), which appears at the beginning of the footage, was established in 1910 to provide banking services to the local community. The footage also shows Hatsukaichi Station on the Miyajima Line operated by Hiroshima Gasudenki (today’s Hiroshima Electric Railway). Completed in 1924, the station building was for a long time the company’s only surviving wooden-built station. It was demolished in October 2012 to make way for redevelopment.
Reference: Hatsukaichi-machi, Hatsukaichi-machi-shi Tsushihen Gekan [A Comprehensive History of Hatsukaichi Town, Last Volume] (1988)

[33]Cycling Trip to the Aki Kokubunji Site

Filmed circa 1940 (Showa 15) by Shuzo Ikemori
Saijo-cho, Higashihiroshima City

Kokubunji (lit. provincial temple) were temples established in each province during the Nara period by Emperor Shomu, who sought Buddhist protection of the nation through the project. The kokubunji of Aki Province (western part of today’s Hiroshima Prefecture) was located in Saijo-cho, Kamo-gun, according to evidence unearthed by archeological excavations first carried out in 1932. In 1936, the part of the former Kokubunji site that includes the remains of a pagoda was designated as a Historic Site. The footage records a cycling trip to the site, which was prepared for the visiting public following the designation.
After World War II, major excavations were resumed in 1966, and today a greater part of the site, including remains of temple buildings, has received Historic Site designation.

[34]From “Allure of the Snow-Capped Mountains Part 1: Azumayama”

Filmed December 26, 1937, by Tamio Kaneda
Original film courtesy of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Hikawa-cho, Shobara City

Japan’s first commercial ski resort opened in Yamagata Prefecture in the late Meiji era, prompting growing interest in skiing in other regions with heavy snow.
Azumayama Ski Resort opened in 1927. It had pistes for both beginners and experienced skiers, and illumination for night skiing. The ski resort thrived until around 1941, when skier numbers dropped sharply due to the worsening war situation, forcing the resort to close down. It reopened after the war and regained its pre-war popularity as growing numbers of people practiced the sport, but has subsequently closed again.
The footage shows students of Shudo Junior High School, a private boys’ school in Hiroshima City, receiving skiing lessons.
Reference: Hiwa-cho, Hiwa-cho-shi [History of Hiwa Town] (1980)

[35]From “Mount Osorakan”

Filmed 1941 (Showa 16) by Tamio Kaneda
Original film courtesy of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Akiota-cho, Yamagata-gun

Osorakan Ski Resort, located on Hiroshima Prefecture’s highest peak Mount Osorakan (1,346 m), opened in the early Showa era, at around the same time as Azumayama Ski Resort shown in [34]. It was the country’s southernmost fully equipped ski resort, and hosted four prefectural championships before the war, as well as the first western Japan downhill championship in 1936.
The footage shows men and women enjoying backcountry skiing on the wooded slopes of Mt. Osorakan, and rime-covered trees, a rare sight in Hiroshima Prefecture.
Today there are campsites and hiking trails where the ski resort used to be, offering year-round outdoor leisure facilities.
Reference: Togochi-cho, Togochi: Shashin de Miru Ayumi [History of Togochi Town through Photographs] (1986)

[39]Classes at Eishin Shogyo Gakko

Filmed circa 1935 (Showa 10) by Yasuto Kittaka
Miyoshi-cho, Fukuyama City

Eishin Shogyo Gakko (lit. Eishin Commercial School), today’s Eishin Gakuen Junior High School and High School, was a private boys’ school founded in 1904. The footage was recorded in or around 1935, when the school relocated to newly built premises in Miyoshi-cho, Fukuyama City. The footage shows the school buildings, kendo, judo, marching, bar routines, and hurdling in the schoolyard, as well as abacus and typing lessons.

[40]Kabe Jinjo and Koto Elementary School Autumn Sports Day

Filmed October 16, 1926 (Taisho 15), by Shuichi Fujii
Kabe-cho, Asakita Ward

Kabe Elementary School was founded in 1874 under the name Seibisha. In the academic year 1926 when this film was made, it was a combined six-year jinjo and two-year koto elementary school, with a total of 400 students across eight grades, with one class per grade.
Kabe district hosted its first sports day, held jointly by nine elementary schools, in 1887. Subsequently, schools gradually shifted to holding sports days on their own, or with fewer other schools. The sports day increasingly became a major event not just for the school but also for members of the local community hosting the school.
Reference: Hiroshima-shi Gappei-cho Choshi Kanko-kai, Kabe-cho-shi [History of Kabe Town] (1976)

[41]From “Receiving Blue-Eyed Dolls”

Filmed 1927 (Showa 2) by Shuichi Fujii
Kabe-cho, Asakita Ward

In 1927 Japan received 12,000 Friendship Dolls (known as “blue-eyed dolls”) as a goodwill gift from the United States. Japanese dolls were presented in return. The American dolls were distributed to elementary and other schools across the country. The footage shows what appears to be a ceremony marking the presentation of a pair of the dolls to Kabe Elementary School.
Many of the blue-eyed dolls were subsequently lost, especially as a result of being associated with an “enemy country” after the outbreak of the Pacific War. Whereabouts of the Kabe Elementary School dolls is likewise not known.
Reference: RCC News, broadcast on March 7, 1989

[42] Funeral Procession and Joint Funeral of the War Dead

Filmed circa 1940 (Showa 15) by Shuzo Ikemori
Takaya-cho, Higashihiroshima City

As the Sino-Japanese War dragged on amid growing numbers of casualties, fallen soldiers coming home as white cloth-wrapped “boxes” became a ubiquitous sight everywhere in the country. The footage shows a large procession led by a boy with a white bundle around his neck, accompanied by a woman in mourning attire. Perhaps the deceased was the boy’s father.
According to an eyewitness, the footage shows Yokokuji Temple in Shiraichi, where bereaved families had brought the ashes of the war dead for a joint funeral. Such ceremonies were initially grand affairs, but were gradually scaled back as the war intensified and made them impractical.
Reference: RCC News, broadcast on June 16, 2005

[48]From “At Nakajimatei in Itsukaichi City”

Filmed May 17, 1936 (Showa 11), by Daikichi Nakano
Kairoyama-cho, Saeki Ward, Hiroshima City

Itsukaichi Bathing Beach opened around 1887 near Kairoyama. After the arrival of the Sanyo Railway, the area received large numbers of visitors, who came for the saline springs, steam baths, inns, and restaurants. Nakajimatei in the footage was an inn and restaurant serving Japanese and Western fare, established in the Taisho era.
Locals born before the war recall that before Rakurakuen opened, the park at Kairoyama and the sea bathing park at Jigozen were the most popular day trip destinations from central Hiroshima City. The park at Kairoyama was expanded and improved after the war, and continues to provide year-round pleasure to the local community.
Reference: Hiroshima Prefectural Archives, Hiroshima-ken no Rekishi Ehagaki to Kanko Shiryo [Hiroshima Prefecture’s Historical Postcards and Tourism Materials] (2010)

[49]Splashing About at Imose Waterfall

Filmed circa 1940 (Showa 15) by Sadayoshi Matsuura
Original film courtesy of Isao Matsuura and Hiroshima Municipal Archives
Ono, Hatsukaichi City

Imose Waterfall is 30 minutes on foot from Onoura Station on the JR Sanyo Main Line. The lower waterfall, called Medaki, has a vertical drop of 50 m, and the upper, broader waterfall Odaki has a drop of 30 m. The dynamic waterfall is still a popular spot for cooling down in summer, not least because it is within easy traveling distance from urban areas. The footage records a family day out at the waterfall, and the rural scenery on the way home. The family is shown walking home via Kyoguchimon-dori, suggesting that they had taken the Sanyo Line and tram.

[51]Yagi Plum Grove and Boating on the River in Kabe

Filmed circa 1940 (Showa 15) by Sadayoshi Matsuura
Original film courtesy of Isao Matsuura and Hiroshima Municipal Archives
Yagi, Asaminami Ward, Hiroshima City, and other locations

Yagi Bairin (lit. Yagi Plum Grove), once a popular leisure spot attracting visitors from Hiroshima City and its environs, appears in many pre-war amateur films.
In addition to the plum grove, this footage shows people enjoying boating on a river near Asakita Ward. Also visible are a riverboat with a large sail, and a raft carrying lumber downstream. A number of the riverboats display pennants printed with the word “Suikoen.” Suikoen is a Japanese restaurant still in business in Kabe-cho. According to the restaurant, it used to give diners a lift back to Aioi Bridge to make up for the scarcity of transportation options. The boats returned to the restaurant on the following morning, aided by the tailwind.
Reference: RCC News, broadcast on April 29, 2013

[52]Tomo, Fukuyama, and Onomichi in Summer

Filmed circa 1940 (Showa 15) by Sadayoshi Matsuura
Original film courtesy of Isao Matsuura and Hiroshima Municipal Archives
Tomo-cho, Fukuyama City

The footage includes a bird’s-eye view of Sensuijima (Sensui Island) and Tomonoura, a steam locomotive of Tomo Railway, which was fondly referred to as “rakkyo train,” Fukuyama Castle, the steep rolling hills of Onomichi, and the Onomichi Channel seen from Mt. Senkoji.
Tomonoura was historically an important harbor, where ships put in to wait for a favorable current. It has also been a celebrated scenic spot, made particularly famous by a piece of calligraphy written in its praise by a visiting Korean diplomat. The port’s importance subsequently waned as navigation styles changed. Its scenic beauty remained well-known, however. It was among the first locations designated as National Parks following the enactment of the National Parks Law in 1931. It was also chosen as a motif for a stamp.

[53]Taking the Sanyo Main Line to Fukuyama

Filmed circa 1937 (Showa 12) by Tamizo Ogawa
Sannomaru-cho, Fukuyama City, and other locations

The footage records a family trip to Fukuyama. The family took a National Railway Sanyo Main Line train to Fukuyama Station via Matsunaga Station, and explored Fukuyama Castle and Kusado Ohashi Bridge on foot. Fukuyama Station was first opened in the Meiji era by the private railway company Sanyo Railway near the former sannomaru (one of the outer areas constituting the castle grounds) of Fukuyama Castle. After Sanyo Railway was nationalized, it also served as a station for the narrow-gauge railways Tomo Keiben Tetsudo and Ryobi Keiben Tetsudo. In 1930 the station was rebuilt to make it larger. Freight warehouses were built on the Fukuyama Castle side, or rear, of the station. It also hosted a roundhouse, becoming Bingo region’s important distribution hub.
Fukuyama Castle was built in 1619. It became a park after the Meiji era, and when this film was made its Tenshukaku (main keep), Fushimi Yagura (keep or tower), and Sujigane Gomon (gate) were National Treasures. The main keep was lost to air raids in 1945, and was reconstructed after the war. It now houses a museum.
The large bronze statue in the footage was probably the statue of Abe Masahiro erected in 1922, which no longer exists. The Abe Masahiro statue at the park today was installed after the war.
Kusado Ohashi Bridge (also known as Zenitori-bashi), shown in the second half of the footage, is located roughly 2 km from Fukuyama Station. The original wooden bridge was replaced by a reinforced concrete bridge in 1932. Kusado Inari Shrine nearby receives large numbers of worshippers during the New Year’s holidays.
Reference: Fukuyama Shishi Hensan Kai, Fukuyama Shishi Gekan [History of Fukuyama City, Last Volume] (1978)

[54]Rakurakuen in Summer

Filmed circa 1940 (Showa 15) by Shinichi Yoshioka
Original film courtesy of Hiroshima Municipal Archives
Rakurakuen, Saeki Ward, Hiroshima City

Rakurakuen was an amusement park opened in 1936 in the middle of a residential area developed by the tram company Hiroshima Gasu Kido, which touted it as the “Takarazuka of the Chugoku region.” It is recorded that the park had equipment and rides for families and children, amusement facilities, shops, swimming pools, and rest areas, where visitors could spend the whole day. In summer the park also provided bathing facilities at a nearby beach to the south of the park.
The footage records a group of people warming up before swimming, people frolicking in a swimming pool, adults relaxing in the resting area, and children in swimwear enjoying go-karts and other rides.
Reference: Itsukaichi Choshi Henshu Iinkai, Itsukaichi Choshi Chukan [History of Itsukaichi Town], Second of three volumes (1979)

[59]From “Saburo no Taki”

Filmed circa 1933 (Showa 8)
Original film courtesy of Hiroshi Maekawa
Fuchu-cho, Fuchu City

The roughly 30-m section of Saburo no Taki waterfall is formed like a natural water slide, where both adults and children can enjoy body sliding down the rock-formed slopes. Overzealous sliders can damage the bottoms of their swimsuits. The area is popular not only in summer for water sliding but also in autumn when colorful leaves attract tourists from Hiroshima Prefecture and beyond.
It is said that water sliding in Saburo no Taki began in the early Showa era. The footage shows people, fundoshi-clad and otherwise, enjoying water sliding down the falls.
Reference: RCC News, broadcast on September 10, 1992

[60]Shogatsu Goreikai

Filmed in the early Showa era by Yasuto Kittaka
Sannomaru-cho, Fukuyama City

The Shogatsu Goreikai held on the grounds of Fukuyama Castle (today’s Fukuyama Park) was a New Year’s get-together hosted by the municipal government of Fukuyama. According to an eyewitness, the custom was begun so that “different families could exchange New Year’s greetings at Fukuyama Castle without the trouble of visiting each house separately.” Among the people appearing in the footage is Shinichi Anno, the first mayor of Fukuyama City, who was also known for promoting the building of water supply systems.
Reference: RCC News, broadcast on August 17, 1995

[61]Children during the Fukuyama Tondo Festival

Filmed circa 1929 (Showa 4) by Yushi Hirose et al.
Yokoo-cho, Fukuyama City

Fukuyama Tondo Festival was established as part of the New Year’s celebrations in 1622, when Fukuyama Castle was built by Mizuno Katsunari. The festival involved residents of the castle town—30 neighborhoods adjoining the castle and six neighborhoods in Tomo—parading the streets hoisting 36 decorated tondo (teepee-shaped pyres) to the accompaniment of song and music. The festival was scaled back after domains were replaced by prefectures, and after 1928, when celebrations for the enthronement of Emperor Showa were held, the festival ceased to be an event involving the whole castle town.
Reference: Biyoshi Tanpo no Kai, Biyoshi Tanpo, [Exploring the History of Biyo] Vol. 23 (1985)

[62] From “Snowfall of 1-Shaku 5-Sun”

Filmed December 25, 1926 (Showa 1), by Shuichi Fujii
Kabe-cho, Asakita Ward, Hiroshima City

Kabe-cho had been a center of industry, culture, transportation, and economic activity since pre-modern times, with a large population engaged in commerce, because it was an important juncture on the route connecting Sanin and Sanyo (Sea of Japan side and Seto Inland Sea side of Chugoku region). The opening part of the footage shows the home of the recorder, who dealt in fertilizers. The style of the townhouse is thought to date from the second half or late Edo period. Kabe-cho today retains many of its old townhouses, temples, shrines, and monuments, and hosts walking tours and similar events for their appreciation.
References: Hiroshimashi Gappeicho Choshi Kanko Kai, Kabechoshi [History of Kabe Town] (1976);
Hiroshima Municipal Board of Education, Hiroshimashi Kinsei Kindai Kenchikubutsu Chosa Hokoku [Report of a Survey of Early-Modern and Modern Architecture in Hiroshima City] (1989)

[65]Sightseeing in Miyajima

Filmed February–March 1940 (Showa 15) by Sadayoshi Matsuura
Original film courtesy of Isao Matsuura and Hiroshima Municipal Archives
Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi City

Long renowned as one of Japan’s “three most scenic spots” and a divine island, Miyajima (Itsukushima) frequently appears in pre-war amateur films. This footage was filmed by a resident of Hiroshima City on the occasion of a winter trip to Miyajima with relatives. It shows the party visiting places such as Momijidani Park, famous for its autumn colors, and Hiramatsu Park, which was one of the island’s best vantage points for the Great Torii and Itsukushima Shrine.

[67]Yo-yo Contest at Fukuyama Castle Park

Filmed in the early Showa era by Yasuto Kittaka
Sannomaru-cho, Fukuyama City

An eyewitness recalls that in the days this film was made, there were tennis courts and swimming pools near Fukuyama Castle, which also attracted large numbers of visitors during the cherry blossom season. The cherry grove in the footage was owned by Hachikuro Tanaka (founder of Fukuyama Paper Company), who opened it to the public when the cherries were in bloom.
Reference: RCC News, broadcast on August 17, 1995

[69]Cherry Blossom Viewing at Senkoji Park

Filmed circa 1935 (Showa 10) by Yoshihisa Murao and Genjiro Murao
Tsuchido, Onomichi City, and other locations

Senkoji Park was created in the late Meiji era through the initiative and support of the chief priest of Senkoji Temple and other volunteers. It had been known as a cherry blossom spot since before World War II. The park is currently administered by Onomichi City. The park served as the venue of the Onomichi Port Festival in April 1935 and 1937, and the second half of the footage may have been recorded during a cherry blossom parade associated with the festival. Senkoji Park today is regarded among the top 100 cherry blossom spots in the country, and attracts many visitors during the season.
Reference: RCC News, broadcast on April 8, 1993
Compiled with cooperation from Senkoji Temple

[70]Onomichi Railway and Cherry Blossoms

Filmed circa 1937 (Showa 12) by Tamizo Ogawa
Tsuchido, Onomichi City, and other locations

The footage records family members strolling and picnicking under cherry blossoms in their prime. The family had travelled on the Onomichi Railway from Jogakkomae Station (Kuriharahigashi, Onomichi City) to Ichi Station (Mitsugi-cho, Onomichi City). The Onomichi Railway service between Onomichi and Mitsugi-cho Stations commenced in the late Taisho era, with ambitious plans to extend the service further north, eventually all the way to Shimane Prefecture. The line was the only public transportation available in the area at the time this film was made, but was superseded by extended bus services after the war, and closed in 1964.
Reference: RCC Television, Nijusseiki Hiroshima Anotoki [Scenes from 20th-Century Hiroshima], broadcast on October 8, 2000

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